Question 4 on the 2022 Massachusetts Ballot


In June, supporters of a bill that would allow undocumented people in Massachusetts to get driver's licenses sit outside the State House. DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF

Question 4 on the 2022 Massachusetts Ballot states: remove proof of citizenship or immigration status for driver's license applications referendum. This question has brought up some controversy among Massachusetts residents because, without the requirement of proof of citizenship, undocumented immigrants would now be able to apply for a driver's license. According to the Pew Research Center, Massachusetts has one of the highest percentages of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Most of them have immigrated from Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, or China/Hong Kong, in that descending order, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Sixteen other states, including neighboring states Connecticut and New York, have already enacted similar laws, and have seen a positive impact from them. For starters, according to the Boston Globe, these states have seen a significant drop in the number of hit-and-run cases, for now, drivers will be able to exchange license information with police officers or other drivers. Also, according to Sarah Sherman-Stokes for BU Today, studies have shown that the number of uninsured drivers drops significantly when everyone can receive a license. States like Utah and New Mexico, which had imposed similar laws have seen a drop of 80% and 60% in uninsured driving. In summary, if undocumented immigrants are allowed to receive licenses, the statistics have shown that the roads will become safer for everyone.

Another controversial issue with this bill is the question of whether or not this will allow undocumented immigrants to illegally vote. When one applies for a driver's license, they are automatically registered to vote. Many are worried that if this new law passes, there will be an increase in ineligible voters voting. While this is an understandable concern, there are systems in place to prevent this, and proof that these systems work. For starters, sixteen and seventeen-year-olds do not vote, even after they are registered to vote. Green card and visa holders are also allowed to receive a driver's license, yet they are not registered to vote.
On a personal level, there would be a huge positive impact on undocumented immigrants. Many of them moved here to escape from poverty, violence, or corruption. Living in a foreign country without having any documentation is already as hard as it is. Driving is a huge part of our lives as a society, we use it to get to pretty much everywhere. And so, the passing of this law would impact their lives in such a way that they will now be able to support themselves and their families, legally. These immigrants will be able to go to work, drop off their kids at school, and complete everyday tasks, without any risk. After all, a "yes" vote on Question 4 is a vote for safer roads for everybody.